Both Ferrari and Mercedes made team order calls during the German Grand Prix but Kimi Raikkonen played down the exchange he had with his team.
Raikkonen was leading the race after making an early pit stop for soft tires on what looked like a two-stop strategy. A number of radio messages from Jock Clear asked him not to hold teammate Sebastian Vettel up, to which Raikkonen — who was showing good pace — responded by asking the team to simply state if it wanted him to move out of the way before the change in position happened.
“We have certain rules but it wasn’t clear enough,” Raikkonen said. “I had speed and obviously it was a moment in the race that I wasn’t ideally [going] to stop… That’s what happened. In the end, it didn’t change an awful lot.
“It was a tricky race with the rain and it was pretty slippery in a few places. I had a small moment with one of the lappers, the Sauber, under braking and Valtteri [Bottas] got past me, so not an easy race. Happy to finish. A bit disappointed but I’ll take it and we’ll try next time.”
Raikkonen retook the lead when Vettel crashed out but then opted to pit for fresh ultrasoft tires behind the Safety Car and dropped to third place behind the Mercedes pair. Although the defending champions were keen to talk up Ferrari’s power unit performance in Germany, Raikkonen says the difficulty he had trying to pass Bottas for second place suggests the engines are closely matched.
“They were very strong. All the stories that we are so quick on the straight, it wasn’t really the case after the restart. Yeah, I think for sure there was some difference I guess, because Valtteri had a good run.
“I was surprised overall how good the grip was, because it was still some rain and it was pretty decent grip — the tires were still cold but I think the ultrasoft worked pretty well in that rainy condition. Quite a surprise overall from what I remember from the past. Usually it gets pretty slippery quickly.”
Despite seeing first place when the Safety Car came out become third at the finish, Raikkonen says he has no complaints over the decision to pit for a new set of slicks.
“It’s always easy to say afterwards but honestly we don’t know what would happen if we stay out. I’m 100 percent sure that the ultras worked better, plus I had very used tires at that point already, but I can’t give an answer if it would have been just fine or a complete disaster. That’s always an unknown and you try to weigh up the differences and hope that the new tires will give you some grip to come back.
“Obviously we knew that one of the Mercedes will be on some aged tires but they seemed to be the right decision in those conditions so I don’t have an answer — I don’t think anybody would have an answer what the end result [would be] if we stayed out. Who knows? That’s how it goes.”